I Was Only 18

words by Paul Spencer, 2002

tune “I Was Only 19” by John Schumann/Redgum

        A                               C                       G                         D                   A

1. Mum and Dad and Karen saw me getting on the train to go to Sydney,

G                              A
It was the one that leaves at 12,

A                        C               G                    D
I enroled at Sydeny Uni in a bachelor of science,

A                          G                      A
Did it suit me? It was really hard to tell.

E                                                                D                      A
And posters lined the footpaths where the activists had been,

E                                                     D                                   A
And when I came across them I was young and fresh and keen,

D                            E                       D                       C#m
And that’s how I met Marxists at a meeting of the greens,

E                         F#m E    D
God help me, I was only eighteen.

2. From a youth club called Resistance to the Students’ Council office,
I’d been in and out of meetings now for months,
And all my friends had Che Guavara pin-ups in their bedrooms,
And we sat discussing Lenin in the pub,

And can you tell me doctor why I still can’t stay awake?
When people talk of rising up and throwing off the state,
And what’s a revolution, can you tell me what it means?
God help me, I was only 18.

3. Four-week-long elections where a win was jsut a token for the Left,
It was a war within yourself,
But you wouldn’t let your mates down and you got to skip some lectures,
So you gave out flyers and thought about something else.

Then the bargains with the Labor Party went on every day,
And the lefties’ high ideals seemed to quietly slip away,
And all this talk of winning made me trust them even less,
God help me, they’ve got my address.

4. I remember sitting round and calling ourselves socialists,
And drinking till the uni bar kicked out,
And I remember fighting with their culture of obedience,
Till the meeting closed and stopped the bloody row.

And the Manifesto didn’t mention marching in a line,
And following the megaphone and chanting dodgy rhymes,
I yelled some slogans from the back that I didn’t even feel,
God help me, I was only 18.

And can you tell me doctor why I still can’t stay awake,
When the Party tries to tell me that it’s for the people’s sake?
And what’s a revolution, can you tell me what it means?
God help me, I was only 18.